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State investigators find Lyft shorted 15,000 WA drivers by nearly $193,000

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Rideshare drivers in Washington state have filed more than three dozen complaints with the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries since a new law establishing added protections for drivers was enacted some six months ago.

According to L&I, complaints from three Lyft drivers about not being fully compensated for trips outside of Seattle resulted in the company carrying out a self-audit that found more than 15,000 drivers were owed back wages of nearly $193,000.

House Bill 2076, dubbed the “Expanding Fairness” bill, passed the Legislature in 2022 and was signed into law by Gov. Gary Locke. HB 2026 guarantees benefits for rideshare drivers while still maintaining their status as gig workers and not company employees.

Under the compromise legislation, drivers are guaranteed benefits that include paid sick leave, a minimum pay rate, and a resource center for drivers who want to appeal their deactivation. Meanwhile, rideshare companies can’t set their workers’ schedules, and cities won’t have the power to regulate said companies.

The law ensures drivers earn at least $1.17 per mile or 34 cents per minute when transporting passengers, in addition to a minimum of $3 per trip. In large cities like Seattle, the minimum is $1.38 per mile, or 59 cents per minute and $5.17 per trip.

Lyft said it didn’t shortchange its drivers on purpose.

“A technical error led to minor pay discrepancies for certain drivers in Washington,” a spokesperson for Lyft said, as reported by the Idaho Capital Sun. “Lyft corrected this issue, and those drivers have all now received the correct payment.”

“I believe the new law has worked as we envisioned it would,” L&I spokesperson Jeff Mayor told The Center Square. “And that’s not just in the case of the Lyft situation. All the other cases we’ve gotten since the law took effect also shows drivers are becoming more aware of what their rights are.”

He continued: “From the moment the legislation passed, drivers seemed happy with the final result, and we haven’t heard any complaints from them.”

Rideshare drivers can download complaint forms here, and learn more about driver rights and protections here.

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